Monday, September 5, 2016

I Would Rather Be Gray Than Black Or White

Thanks to Labor Day, it's been a wonderful three-day weekend. It was refreshing to hang out with friends, get a bunch of errands crossed off my (never-ending) list, and relax with my little family. However, this weekend really revolved around exercise and eating right. Maybe a little too much.

A week ago, a friend and I were both lamenting about our struggles with depression, anxiety, and body woes. We both had been thinking about getting Fitbits to help us jumpstart our new resolve to move more and eat better. A few days later, thanks to Amazon Prime, my new and shiny Fitbit Blaze arrived in the mail and as a result, I've spent the last week tracking my steps, floors climbed, heart rate, miles walked, weight, water intake, sleep quality, calories eaten and calories burned. 

My obsessiveness squealed with glee.

The fact you can challenge others to for most steps in daily, weekly, or weekend challenges only fans the flames of my competitive nature. I am learning that I might step away from challenging friends because it might result in me pacing for two and half hours during a movie instead of cuddling with my husband and puppy in order to get more steps in. 

Balance is key, and I don't have any idea how to do that. I tend to be an all or nothing person. I either do something and go the extra (sometimes literal) mile(s) or I don't do anything at all. I'm going to attempt to find balance in my exercise and eating regime but I feel like I'm fighting against a mindset that has been engrained for years in the form of my eating disorder and overall, simply addictive personality. Five years ago, I would run twelve miles a day and eat barely enough calories to keep a goldfish alive. If I was only able to get in six miles for whatever reason, I felt like shit and had to punish myself. "You are worthless" was my mantra. It's taken years to heal from the effects of torturing my own mind into submission. 

So I will be careful and tread the fine line between all or nothing with delicacy. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Powerlessness But Not Helplessness

Who I am today is not the person I was a year ago when I last posted on this blog. It's funny how time changes you. I spent the last year consumed by full-time classes and full-time work as a counselor in my chosen profession. I never stopped to take a breath, to see a friend for coffee, or to read a book for fun. Summer came and I graduated with my BA in Addiction Studies Summa Cum Laude, which means with highest honors. Just a few posts back I was writing about my anxiety and fear of failure just four weeks into my return to college. Why was I so worried? 

I gained confidence in one area and completely lost it in another. I weigh the most I've ever weighed and it's terrifying. I see myself in pictures and don't even recognize myself in this body. It's not just a former eating disordered girl's distorted view of her own body- I'm legit overweight by 15 pounds. An overwhelming feeling of hopelessness constantly consumes me. I try to eat healthy and workout but the number doesn't change. I make myself purge or restrict and it doesn't change. I am trapped in a body I once demonstrated my control over so perfectly. However, when I really think about it, I never stuck to my healthy diet and exercise long enough to see change. I'm used to immediate results and when I don't get those, I give up.

Furthermore, my anxiety has been debilitating. I rely on Xanax more than ever before and when I forget to bring it with me on trips, I end up having panic attacks that result in passing out and heart rates up to 200 bpm. Some days, it feels like I'm barely holding it together. 

On top of all these feelings and thoughts running in and out of my head and heart on a daily basis, we recently stopped birth control. We aren't intentionally trying to get pregnant, but as Ryan puts it, "The goalie has been removed." My impatience has yet again resulted in my mind racing to the worse case scenario- Am I infertile? Is Ryan infertile? Will my body be able to handle a pregnancy? 

Fear and Hopelessness are my closest companions these days. But I'm tired. Tired of them consuming my thoughts and holding me back from fully enjoying the moment. We've had the opportunity to do many things this summer- Hawaii with friends, Portland, Seattle, and Montana. I wasn't able to fully enjoy these moments with Ryan, family and friends because of fearing the worst and feeling unable to change what I had accepted as "my fate" to be fat, anxious and infertile for the rest of my life.

I am powerless against many things in this life, but I am not helpless. I will change and this starts today.  I will feed my body with nutritious food and feed my soul with Scripture and meditation. I want to change so I'm not so miserable on the inside. I can do this, right?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Change Is In The Air

Is it really almost October? How did time pass so swiftly? Much has changed since I last wrote at the beginning of summer. I am now working full-time as a counselor at a drug residential treatment house for women who are pregnant or with small children. I was only intending to apply for my practicum and work 20 hours per week. However, I interviewed and they offered me a full-time job, paid and with benefits. Furthermore, this treatment facility was my number one choice and I love working there!

However, I am also a full-time student. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be THAT person who was able to work full-time and be a full-time student. I didn't think I could handle the stress and I'm still not sure I can manage. Classes began last week and I'm hoping I can withstand the stress and pressure.

I did crack a bit last week on the first day of school. I had a four-hour detox clinic shift to finish up my practicum, four hours at my job, and a four hour long class. I haven't purged in a couple months but I ended up purging lunch in between the detox shift and work. I regretted it instantly and knew it was how I chose to cope with stress.

I've also had thoughts of restricting...however, I have to eat a lot of gluten for my upcoming endoscopy and colonoscopy that is scheduled in two weeks. Carbs are a trigger for me so having to eat a lot of wheat has been difficult. I find myself looking forward to the three day prep where I am instructed to stick to a liquid diet. My eating disorder is happy to have the excuse.

Another big change possibly coming our way is a new job for Ryan. He has already had an interview and now the company is flying him down to Portland for a panel interview this Friday. If he gets this job, he will be getting out of the field. Instead of a foreman/assistant superintendent he will be more like a project manager for a bank. I'm trying not to get my hopes up but it would great if he got this job. He would be working IN TOWN, better pay, better benefits, and did I mention he would get to come home every night?

So there's a boring update on my life. Nothing too interesting. I will update more when I can though. I miss writing.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Finally A Break

After my finishing my last final yesterday, I woke up this morning fully intending to soak up every minute of unscheduled time for the next week and half before summer quarter begins. After enjoying a lazy morning/afternoon, I realized how much I missed writing and connecting with others. So here's some ramblings and an update.

So far in 2015, my family and myself have been bombarded with health problems. Several family members ended up in the hospital and having to do surgery. I was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Celiacs Disease, Hypothydroidism, and SI joint problems that have been quite debilitating. I guess when I was a little girl and wondered what my life would be like in my mid-twenties, I didn't imagine what has now become my reality.

The main thing I've been internally struggling with is coming to terms with the imperfect body I've been given. It's easy to feel down and resent the pills I have to take everyday simply to function. I often find myself angry and choosing to skip my medication, inevitably paying the consequences for the next week. The biggest conflicts in my marriage has centered around this resentment and rebellion. It's difficult to remember I'm not the only one who pays when I skip my meds.

I'm learning not to compare myself to others my age. I am me. I have to believe God will take what is broken and make it something beautiful. Faith isn't easy. I'm not that good at it. But I have to believe and I have trust. Otherwise, I will drown in my despair and that's no way to live. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I'm Not A Victim to Anxiety

I don't remember the last time I blogged…it's been awhile. Honestly, I haven't felt like I needed it, or my YouTube channel. However, I need it now so here I am.

I've been close to tears all week, waves of emotions crashing and breaking against the calm facade I've tried to maintain. It's only a matter of time before everyone knows I am barely handling school after just nearly four weeks of fall quarter.

I don't have faith in myself to do my classes well. I'm overwhelmed by what's being asked of me, things I have done in years, like writing a paper. Can I keep going? Am I going to fail?

Feeling like this is probably my fault, considering I haven't really been taking my depression meds the last couple of weeks. Ryan doesn't understand why I don't take my meds sometimes. I don't even know why, to be honest. Sometimes it's because I resent them, not wanting to rely on medication to make me feel okay. Other times, it's because I simply forget to take them. I put it off, saying I'll take all my meds with the next meal but never actually do it.

In my counseling theories class, we are studying the existential theory. This theory says we are not victims of our situation. We choose who we want to be and how we react to life events. Despite who we have been, we are always recreating ourselves and can choose a different path than the one we've been trekking. As much as I like the idea of this kind of freedom, it's sometimes easier to believe I am a victim and I cannot help my situation. It's much more difficult to choose freedom and accept the responsibility that comes with it. It's so easy to let anxiety take control and allow it to drown me.

No matter how many excuses I make, I can't ignore my reality. I keep telling myself to "buck up" and just "do." I guess this little blog is just me venting. I'll keep trying, I'll stop self-sabotaging myself…I just need to complain for a second. I need to know it's okay to feel like this. It's temporary. It will change.

I have to believe in myself. I can do it. I can keep walking forward.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Turning Things Around

I keep saying I'm going to blog, and never do. I hope you will allow me to write my thoughts freely and as they come to me. It's what I need right now.

The days are passing, and my thoughts have turned dark. I've let the darkness thicken and grow inside of me until it's permeating from my being. It doesn't help I was unable, due to insurance mix ups, to take my medications. 

I'll be honest, I'm extremely unhappy with my body. I'm at the highest weight I've ever been and it's terrifying. My thoughts are always consumed with how to eat less and move more. Not an hour goes by without berating myself for this disgusting body I've allowed to flourish.

However, the problem with all these plans is the execution. Say I go to work and someone brought cookies, or doughnuts, or bought everyone lunch...I can't allow myself to keep food I didn't plan. I end up purging a few times every week. My body isn't handling it well. I often wonder how in the world my body ever handled such abuse. My heart is acting up with terrible PVCs and they're becoming increasingly difficult to manage. When I'm feeling weak and am having symptoms, I begin to contemplate my mortality. What am I doing to myself??

I can't get help for the purging either. Technically, I suppose I can reach out for support. However, I am at such a high weight for my body, I feel ashamed just thinking about it. I don't deserve help. Maybe if things get bad enough, I can reach out, but at this weight there's no way I'm attending group therapy or going to the outpatient ED clinic where my team now works. 

I can't restrict. I can't go on living in this body. I can't keep purging. What do I do? 

While laying down after dinner because of stupid PVCs racking my body, I came to a conclusion. I need to quit trying to lose weight through restriction. It inevitably leads to purging and then PVCs, and most likely other problems I don't want to deal with again. My goal is this: Aim for 1600 calories of healthy, well-rounded meals during the week. On the weekends, allow myself a couple of "cheat" meals. Another sizable goal is to exercise, or at least purposefully MOVE 20 minutes every day. 

My hope is that this will make me feel better about my body, balance my eating habits, and hopefully I will get back on track in my recovery.

For those of you I've asked to specifically read this blog, will you support me and keep me accountable? Text or call me every now and then to see how I'm doing??  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Looking Back and Going Forward

I've been reflective lately, more so than usual. I've been thinking of different times in my life and their corresponding "flavors." I don't know how else to describe it...there's certain feelings, smells, songs, thoughts, and events that are ingredients creating this "flavor" of a time long past. My adult life is made up of three or four "flavors" I'd like to contemplate.

The first flavor was the year following high school graduation. I got my first job at Starbucks and struggled learning that work life didn't come naturally to me like the education world once did. In fact, I really sucked at learning to work. My mind had to be present and focused. I learned how to be practical, professional, and deal with catty coworkers who I could never seem to please. Even though learning to work was difficult for me, there were many happy memories in this time period. Austyn moved in with my family. We became incredibly close, shared a bedroom even though I had my own, and became sisters. This time period is characterized by how happy, carefree, and delighted with life we were...and maybe a bit ignorant of the troubled times that were to come.
Songs: Black Cat by Mayday Parade
            Savior by Lights
Misc: Ben and Jerry's Half Baked Ice Cream, hikes in summer, late night talks with Austyn until we fell asleep

The second flavor was the year I spent going to school in England. It was magical living in a castle amidst the green rolling hills of the english countryside. I was still carefree and young, doing ridiculous things with my friends like running around the castle dressed as ninjas, or sneaking out after lock up to build a bonfire by the pond and read poetry with some guys friends in our own Dead Poet's Society. I learned, the hard way of course, that I would lead guys on only to ignore them once I had they're attention. I partly did this to boost my practically non-existent self-esteem, but also because I hated men for what they symbolized to me- sex-crazed, abusive, shallow creatures. I harbored this hatred towards men for years but didn't realize how cruel I was being to them until I was confronted by several guy friends in England. However, most my time in England was light hearted. I always look back with fondness at the simplicity of my life then, maybe with a bit of regret too.
Songs: The Sharpest Lives by My Chemical Romance
            Poker Face by Lady Gaga
            Le Disko by Shiny Toy Guns
Misc: Curry noodles at midnight, nutella, ginger cookies around a bonfire, potatoes- lots of potatoes. Watching Alias with my girls. Long walks by moonlight with Daniel, clubbing in Barcelona, rain.

The third flavor is quite a dark time in my life, possibly the darkest. Memories of watching my then 17 year old brother die and the deep depression that followed, are almost too painful for me to remember. I used to love to read fantasy and science fiction books until this time period. I could no longer believe in these pretend worlds. Reality clung to me too tightly and there was no escaping it's touch. To this day, I cannot eat a black bean veggie burger without re-living those empty days spend lying in bed with the weight of the world crushing me into the sheets. I would have flashbacks of Tyler gasping for air that wasn't there after we took him off of life support. It would come at the most inconvenient times and leave me shattered, at work or church or wherever it hit me. I finally snapped out of my zombie-like existence and took some classes at the community college. I got into goju ryu karate and japanese, and excelled at it.
Songs: Utopia by Within Temptation
            Satellite Heart by Anya Marina
            Rosie Thomas
Misc: Anime, candles, darkness, summer nights on the porch swing.

The fourth flavor follows closely behind the third. It was a year after Tyler died. I became increasingly obsessed with calories and exercise. I began running miles on end, though I had never been much of a runner. I began throwing up my food again, anything deemed unworthy of being digested which ended up being most everything. I sunk deeper and deeper into my eating disorder. I tried to stop throwing up and tried to stop the weight loss, but I was stuck. My hair fell out, I passed out, threw up blood, and overall felt like crap 110% of the time. I tried to recover, but it seemed hopeless. I'd wake up in the morning, thinking about all the obligations I had to get through before I could go to sleep again. My body finally couldn't take it anymore. It was either the hospital or inpatient treatment in Arizona, so I chose the latter. I spent May through August in treatment, gaining weight back through tube feedings and ensure plus (gross). I started to feel again and at first, it was too overwhelming. I couldn't use my eating disorder to numb myself in treatment though, so I was forced to face things I had locked away. However, treatment felt safe. I was able to rest and breathe. To this day, sometimes I am nostalgic and wish I could go back there, just for awhile, so I can breathe. 
Artists: Anya Marina, Sara Jaffe, Sia, Adele, The Civil Wars, Mumford and Sons
Misc: Treadmills, toilets, 00 size jeans, coldness, Arizona sunsets, Ambien hallucinations, the feeling of a tube down my throat, not getting to flush my own toilet or even pee alone. 

The fifth, and final flavor was the time period after treatment. I came home and soon relapsed. Six months after coming home I was nearly in the same horrible place I had been in previous to treatment. Strangely enough though, it was good for me. I chose recovery all on my own, without feeling pressured to recover because family were paying ridiculous amounts of money for me to be in treatment. I began using those skills I had learned in Arizona and CHOOSING recovery. I became vegan, which somehow really helped me be okay with food. I healed on so many levels. I met Ryan. I began to LIVE life, not merely exist in it. I struggled, I loved, I lost, I cried, I laughed- I became who I am today, perfectly imperfect. 

Looking back, I'm proud of where I am today. Now, I'm looking towards the future. I know I'll have hard times again, but I'll also laugh and love. My story isn't finished yet, and neither is yours. 

Let's appreciate the past, live fully in the moment, and look forward to the future. Every day could be our last. I will no longer take it for granted.